» Single mom's inspiring post about graduating from Harvard Law goes viral
Sherrill tried shooting himself in December of 1988. The gun didn't go off until he threw it onto the ground. "I wanted to die and couldn't even do that," he told the Observer.
After staying at a halfway house in Morganton, North Carolina, Sherrill began doing yard work for a couple who introduced him to their pastor, Steve Eason, formerly of the town's First Presbyterian Church.
The pastor took a chance on Sherrill and hired him to work as a groundskeeper, an investment which inspired Sherrill to visit a literacy center to learn how to read. He wanted a better life for his wife and five children, Sherrill told The Washington Post.
When he took his son to enroll at Queens University, Sherrill made a bet with him: The father would enroll, too, and whoever got the best GPA each semester would pay the other $100.
That was eight years ago, the Post reported. And in May, three years after his son finished his degree, Sherrill received his in human service studies. He hopes to find a position working with children who are at risk, like he once was, he told the newspaper.